CISD Trustees approve temporary mask mandate for September


Nick Larry

Coppell ISD Board of Trustees listens to CISD residents speak about their support or disapproval of a proposed mask mandate in the Vonita White Administration Building on Monday. The board approved Trustee Manish Sethi’s motion to pass a mandatory mask mandate while indoors on all CISD facilities with a 6-0 count.

Meer Mahfuz, Staff Writer

Monday’s special Coppell ISD Board of Trustees meeting began off like the week prior, with impassioned parents, doctors and other Coppell ISD residents voicing their opinion on a district mask mandate, but ended off with a final decision.

Despite debating at length, the board voted to approve Place 2 trustee Manish Sethi’s motion to temporarily mandate mask wearing from Sept. 2 to the end of the business day on Sept. 27 or until there is further legislative litigation on the federal, state or county level on a 6-0 count. Place 2 trustee Dr. Neena Biswas was the only member not to participate in the vote. 

The approved motion will require masks for students, staff and visitors while indoors at all district facilities and on district-provided transportation. The motion is subject to medical, religious, philosophical or administrative exemption.

“I stand behind science and I like people to have their choice and even though masks are pretty inconvenient, sometimes you have to go above and beyond personal preferences and do what’s right for the community,” Sethi said. “It’s a proven fact that when enough people do wear the mask, it does flatten the curve. There’s not an exact, 100% proof but every small measure like air filters and giving flexibility for students to eat outside help flatten the curve.”

Superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt said that the days leading up to Thursday will be used to prepare staff for the mandate. The next couple of days would also give time for administration to develop a plan to formally enforce the mandate. 

Multiple factors played into the decision making, including but not limited to vaccinations, student preferences, availability of substitute teachers, as well as the financial impact. There were more than 520 district-wide absentees on Friday alone and when students don’t come to school, the district loses money.

“I hear [the people who disagree with us] and I empathize with them because wearing a mask does not come naturally but what we are doing here is following the science,” Sethi said.

Highlighted in the crowd of open participants were multiple doctors, COVID-19 researchers and other CISD residents expressing their support or disapproval of a mask mandate, so many of which that the open forum was extended to 90 minutes instead of the usual 30.

In terms of enforcement, wearing a mask will be part of the dress code. The exemption form for medical, philosophical, religious and administrative reasons will be made available on Tuesday afternoon on the CISD’s COVID-19 Protocol page.  Masks will be made readily available across buildings and classrooms, as budgeted for last year.

Follow Meer (@mahfuz_meer) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.